Sides differ on what RI to gain, lose with CNE/Partners deal


With the debate heating up over whether Rhode Islanders come out ahead or fall behind with acquisition of Care New England by Partners HealthCare, both CNE and Lifespan have launched websites outlining their points of view.

Yesterday, CNE President Dr. James Fanale took issue with the Lifespan characterization that the acquisition will result in higher health costs, take jobs to Boston and return nothing to the Ocean State.

He sees the acquisition resulting in better care for Rhode Islanders and the resources to improve medical facilities.

He said CNE and Brigham Health, which has had a long relationship with Kent Hospital and is a member of the Partners system, are in the process of assessing deferred maintenance costs to Kent as well as Women’s & Infants and Butler hospitals in developing a 10-year capital program. He couldn’t offer specifics of what Partners would invest in existing CNE facilities, but he noted one of the up-front expenses will be transitioning information technologies between the two entities.

Also under review is how best to finance improvements, the extent of borrowing and use of reserves.

“When you think of a world-class operation,” Fanale said of Partners, “they know they have to invest.”

Yet the message from Lifespan is that Partners will be acquiring CNE “with $0 payment.”

CNE spokesman Jim Beardsworth points out that CNE is a nonprofit. This is not a deal to put money into the pockets of CNE.

Spokeswoman for Lifespan Christina O’Reilly, however, says that in acquiring Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, which CNE has since closed, CNE put forward a plan for more than $25 million in improvements.

“This shows,” she said of the CNE/Partners plan, “not defined investment at this point.”

O’Reilly reiterated Lifespan’s contention that “health care for Rhode Island should be maintained in Rhode Island.”

What of an arrangement that includes Lifespan?

O’Reilly pointed out that CNE and Lifespan have talked in the past and that CNE issued a request for proposals, choosing to select Partners. Fanale said Lifespan has been included in some discussions, but for the moment CNE is focused on completing the Partners acquisition. Introducing Lifespan at this point, he said, “would take a lot longer” while raising antitrust issues that would mean more delays.

“We’ve got to get going on expanding the ability to take care of patients better,” he said.

Fanale also spoke of CNE’s lease with Lifespan for the site of Women & Infants. He said CNE researched this carefully before entering talks with Partners and he sees no issue as Partners is a nonprofit. He doesn’t see the 100-year lease, of which about 60 years is remaining, as a deal breaker.

On its website,, CNE makes a point-by-point response to Lifespan and claims made on its website. The website brought the following statement attributed to Jane Bruno of Lifespan:

“Independent analysis completed for state officials and independent sources show this acquisition will leave Rhode Islanders paying more for health care and getting less local access to specialty care while losing jobs and economic opportunity. There isn’t a website or promise that can change those facts. Lifespan maintains its position that the proposed acquisition of Care New England by Partners HealthCare is a devastating deal for Rhode Islanders. Numerous independent sources cited on (the Lifespan website) point to higher cost of care and resulting spikes in health insurance premiums; loss of the volume needed to maintain the world-class specialty care Rhode Island now boasts as patients are funneled to Boston; loss of the jobs supported by caring for those patients; and loss of local decision-making for important Rhode Island institutions.”

In launching the website, Beardsworth issued the following statement on Tuesday:

“ provides information to our community about the benefits of this proposal and offers details on how we will keep care local and affordable, improve infrastructure, and create opportunities for the expansion of ambulatory care and jobs. We hope Rhode Islanders will visit the site and our social media channels, review the information, and get the facts.”

Review of the CNE/Partners proposal by the Department of Health and the Attorney General won’t commence until the two parties deem the application complete. Fanale said. He said CNE and Brigham are in the process of answering about 100 questions. He expects the application will be complete by late May or early June.


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Edward Walker

My one comment on all this is that the RI population that these hospitals serve is NEVER asked their feelings on the proposed me get. Just look at what happened with the St. Joseph and Fatma hospital merger??? Yet the political establishment, the legal experts and lawyers go merrily away and disappear when the merger faiils

Friday, May 3